At least fifty people, many of them children, were killed and many others injured in an unprovoked attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, a town in the southwestern Nigerian state of Ondo, according to the governor of Ondo, Arakunrin Akeredolu. Gunman fired into the parishioners gathered in the church. There were also reports of explosives. The attack took place on Pentecost Sunday, when Catholics celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles nine days after the Ascension of Jesus.
Nigerian Catholics and other Christians have suffered terribly at the hands of Islamic extremists over the years, but the violence has been mostly in the northern part of the country. In contrast, southwestern Nigeria has been relatively peaceful.
Governor Akeredolu tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people in Owo, worshipping at the St. Francis Catholic Church today. The vile & satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.” The Vatican also issued a statement: “The pope learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria, and the death of dozens of faithful, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost. While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, to send his Spirit to comfort them.”
Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute, an expert on religious persecution, commented, “While the facts are still emerging about today’s massacre, it is clear that large scale, war-like attacks on Catholics and other Christians are spreading in a system of impunity. The Buhari government has allowed this to continue unabated and fails to protect Nigeria’s churches. This governmental passivity is being seen as a green light for extremists to target Christians.” Shea also blasted the Biden administration and Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for removing Nigeria from the United States’ “Country of Concern” list of countries where religious persecution is a problem. Shea said, “Kidnappings and murders of priests and pastors, enslavement of Christian girls, and mob lynchings for alleged blasphemy against Islam” have increased since the U. S. removed Nigeria from the list. Shea also said that, “[Blinken] needs to address this crisis, stop making excuses for it based on a climate change narrative and designate Nigeria as a CPC (Country of Concern). Anything less is unconscionable.”
Christians in North America have much to be concerned about, especially with Biden in the White House and Trudeau as PM of Canada and the on-going battle against the cartels in Mexico. There really is an aggressive campaign to undermine Christian values and force Christians to embrace policies contrary to the moral teachings of Christ and His Church. But we also need to keep our perspective. We are not facing planned violent attacks against us, our children, and our churches. There are few martyrs in America. We can fix the broken windows and remove the graffiti from pro-abortion idiots. We can’t fix men, women, and children killed by extremists.
But we can do what we can to help. Again, as I’ve done before, let me recommend any help you can give to Aid to the Church in Need:
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.